Iranian oil tankers are sailing under the Tanzania-Zanzibar flag in order to bypass the international economic sanctions, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
According to data compiled by a unit of Englewood, Colorado-based HIS, a company that maintains a global shipping database for the United Nations’ maritime agency, the 14 ships operated by Tehran-based NITC, previously registered in the Pacific island of Tuvalu, transmitted data from Sept. 24 to Oct. 13 to show they changed their names and were flying the Tanzania-Zanzibar flag.
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"This must be a mistake, Abdullah Kombo, director of planning, policy and research at Zanzibar’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Communications, told Bloomberg on Oct. 15. The following day he forwarded confirmation from his country’s ship registry that the vessels aren’t entitled to fly the flag, Bloomberg reported.
Iranian tankers have been switching flag states as the US and European Union tighten sanctions on the country over its nuclear program. The EU banned imports of the Islamic Republic's oil in July under legislation that also prohibited any vessel insured in the 27-country bloc from carrying the crude.
Bloomberg reported that Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania, said Aug. 10 it would stop registering Iranian vessels, and Tuvalu announced the same decision six days later. NITC did not respond to the report.
According to Bloomberg, the signals show that nine of the tankers are going to Asia. One is in the Mediterranean heading for Turkey and the others are returning to the Persian Gulf. Nine of the vessels have depths in the water that indicate they may have cargoes on board. Eleven are very large crude carriers, each able to haul about 2 million barrels of oil, the report said.
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